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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Men’s tennis, women’s lacrosse

No joke: bullpen, defense
lift baseball to win

No, that wasn’t an April Fools’ hoax come a day early in the Muhlenberg box score.

Sophomore Mike Speroni, he of the eight relief appearances so far this season, really did start and go five strong, and junior Jason Daniels, who hasn’t pitched in relief since his freshman year, really did come out of the bullpen for three scoreless innings just three days after pitching a complete game.

That role reversal, plus another scoreless inning of relief from junior Kevin Witmier, also normally a starter, added up to a 3-2 Mule win over Haverford that was anything but a joke.

Jason Daniels
Daniels’ last appearance out of the ’pen came against Haverford in the 2008 CC playoffs.
“It was awesome to see how well our ’pen did,” said Speroni. “Witmier picked me up and Daniels picked him up. Great pitching and defense won us the game.”

Speroni helped provide much of that great pitching – against a Ford (11-8, 3-2) team hitting .344 this season, second in the Centennial Conference – in just his second career start. He allowed just three hits over five innings and struck out a career-high eight. He left in the sixth after putting two runners on via a walk and a hit-by-pitch, but Witmier worked out of the jam with a flyout and back-to-back strikeouts.

After Witmier put two on to start the seventh, Daniels followed with three outs of his own and added two more no-hit innings to close the game and earn his first career save.

“As a starting pitcher you have time to get mentally focused,” commented Speroni. “For Daniels to do that out of the bullpen was awesome.”

Awesome, too, was the red-hot bat of junior Joseph DiCecilia. The slugger led off the second inning with a home run down the leftfield line to put Muhlenberg (10-9, 4-1) up 1-0 and added a two-out opposite-field RBI double in the third. Just before DiCecilia’s two-bagger senior Eric Pomroy plated a run with a sacrifice fly.

That was all the offense Speroni and Co. would get, but they would also get some help on defense. In the third Speroni put himself into trouble with a wild pitch on strike three, a single and a walk. With one-out he hit a batter to bring in a run, but he then induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play from the Fords’ cleanup hitter.

“He hit the ball hard but right at [Dan] Fisher,” said Speroni. “Our middle infield was great – they turned some nice double plays.”

Fisher was then on the receiving end of another great defensive play in the seventh. Daniels entered with runners on first and second with nobody out, and, anticipating a bunt, the Mules ran the wheel play to perfection. Third baseman Bobby Spindler fielded the bunt and fired to Fisher at third to get the lead runner.

“We’ve been working on that play since February,” noted Speroni. “To see it come to fruition was beautiful.”

Fisher added a hit and a walk at the plate, and freshman John Muha recorded two hits and walked once.
Click here for line score.
Click here for complete stats.

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